FanPost

What to expect when you're expecting (or hoping)

Lowdown for the rest of the season - The Chelsea Perspective

With just 7 games left in the season (8 and 10 for some others), I felt it made sense to look at the schedule and maybe see the potential bumps along the way. With each victory (or cruel defeat) we oscillate between hoping for the title and expecting to win it. The defeat at Villa park has certainly taken the sting out of our pole position in the title race but the fact of the matter is that we still have the points in the bag and thus lesser games to wade through. With the CL matches also sandwiched in between certain encounters, this is where the squad depth counts. Where the specialists in failure fall away and true contenders rise.

This series (or well might just be this one if nobody likes it) looks at our closing fixtures as opposed to our other title contenders. This is not a points predictor as those are notoriously hard to predict anyway and keep changing after every set of games. The first part looks at the remaining fixtures for Chelsea to try and see where the banana skins may lie.

Team

P

W

D

L

GD

Pts.

Chelsea

31

21

6

4

39

69

Liverpool

30

20

5

5

44

65

City

28

20

3

5

49

63

So this is what we have currently. Not that I think the GD is going to matter much in the title race anyway. The first part is for Chelsea (obviously).

Home Record:

Home

P

W

D

L

GD

Pts.

16

14

2

0

30

44

Away Record:

Away

P

W

D

L

GD

Pts.

15

7

4

4

9

25

Something pretty obvious already and I guess most of us know that, is how good we are at home as opposed to away. In that sense, it is important that we have only 3 home matches left as opposed to 4 away ones. No match can be taken as easy as most teams are either fighting for survival or for European places. Now moving on to the matches.

_______

29th March - Crystal Palace (A) - Difficulty Level - MEDIUM HIGH

Players to watch out for: Palace defense - Ward being particularly good.

Crystal Palace were everyone's favorite team for relegation at the start of the season. And for good cause. It would not be a terrible overstatement to say that the team had stood on the shoulders of Glenn Murray and Zaha in their bid for promotion and with the former injured for the most part of the season and the latter sold to United, they were expected to struggle. For the first third of the season, it went according to script. But then came Pulis. Pulis's palace are resilient as we found out in our 2-1 home win that gave me more scares than I care to admit.

Well drilled in defense, Tony Pulis's teams are notoriously hard to beat and this one is no different. Palace are also fighting for survival (currently in 17th) and will not bend over for anyone. They will probably defend and try to eke out a draw.

The good thing for us though is that Chamakh is still injured and may or may not be back, Jerome is really really bad and Murray is still trying to get into form. So their attack may not be a big problem. However, Palace have the sort of low-block defense that has given us problems all season, so don't expect it to be easy. Another good thing is that we face them now, while City and Liverpool also face them away much later, when they will probably be in more desperate need for points.

Think of this game as playing Stoke away.

_______

5th April - Stoke City (H) - Difficulty Level - RELATIVELY EASY

Players to watch out for: Double Agent Walters, Serial Fouler Adam

Stoke City at home are really really good. They have beaten us, United and Arsenal more recently and drawn with Manchester City and Everton. Yikes. However, Stoke City away are a completely different beast. A rather tame one.

They have 7 away points all season (second lowest after Cardiff) and do not have many relegation worries. Adams and Walters are currently suspended but will be back against us. Remember the home game against them we dominated and won 1-0? Can reasonably expect this one to be similar.

There is the small matter of PSG v. Chelsea a couple days before, but that shouldn't be too big a problem.

_______

13th April - Swansea (A) - MEDIUM LOW

Players to watch out for: Bony, Michu (back from injury but out of form)

Gary Monk's Swansea are having a pretty poor season by their standards. Sitting four points above relegation they are probably starting to look behind their shoulders. The good thing for us is that they will not sit back against us, the bad thing is that they are actually decent and Bony is making a habit of scoring against the Top 6 teams.

After their initial honeymoon though they are slowly sliding down and should not be too difficult if they decide to actually play football. Against Liverpool and other teams, they have shown a tendency to play exactly that way and if we play to our potential, this is a relatively easy tie.

_______

20th April - Sunderland (H) - RELATIVELY EASY

Players to watch out for: Bardsley (very attacking), Johnson (had a crazy burst of form in the middle)

Sunderland have a fixture congestion don't nearly score enough goals. Having scored only thirteen goals at home and thirteen away all season, they are ripe for picking. With this being at home, I am calling a Hazard hattrick after the nightmare he gave them in the away game. Poyet has been trying to play football the right way, and that has gotten him some good results (especially in Cup competitions) and Mannone has been pretty inspired for the time he has played.

They are in a relegation battle, but sorry Gus, you'll have to find your points elsewhere. Considering they also have difficult fixtures against Liverpool City and United, Tottenham (maybe not these two so much) away, they could be staring at relegation.

_______

27th April - Liverpool (A) - HIGH

Players to watch out for: Suarez, Sturridge, Sterling (duh for all three). Well half the team really.

The Elephant in the room. Having the two best forwards and a Manager adaptable to the given situation (though a little Kamikaze in approach) has made Liverpool unlikely contenders for the title. They have scored 42 goals at home in 14 matches. Suarez has scored 28 goals already and he did not even play the first six games of the season!

Yes, the odds are overwhelming. But by this time we would have realized what we need to do. City would have played two of their games in hand and played Liverpool away already so we would know if there is even a shot at the title or not. With Matic patrolling the middle, I just feel a lot more confident about every challenge.

Rodgers has played a 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 3-5-2 etc throughout the season and seems to change it depending on the level of opponent. I expect a 4-3-3 with Suarez on the wing and Sturridge through the middle. Further, they are much better defensively when Agger plays as opposed to brainfreeze Sakho and Calamity Kolo. This will be the biggest test.

Another trivial issue is that if we reach the CL semis, this game would probably be sandwiched in between. Not a big deal.

_______

03rd May - Norwich (H) - RELATIVELY EASY

Players to watch out for: Snodgrass (If they score he's involved)

Norwich are bloody brilliant at home. They have scored 12 but conceded only 13 (a shutout to City included). Compare this with their away form. Scored 11, conceded 36!!. Including 7 to City away. Should not be too hard really. Norwich's last four games are Liv (H), United (A), Chelsea (A), Arsenal (H). If they are not high and dry by then, well, they are screwed. If anyone has seen their away performances, then they should know that we do not have to worry too much.

They lose their defensive resilience away from home even against teams that would be considered pretty bad. There will be chances, it is only about capitalizing on them.

Also a shoutout to the Liverpool (H) game they have. A cheeky 0-0 would really help us Canaries! Please!!

_______

11th May - Cardiff City (A) - RELATIVELY EASY

Players to watch out for: Noone really (Punny). Fine, Jordan Mutch and Caulker (who likes scoring from corners and FK's)

Our last game of the season. Unless we reach the CL final. Cardiff are really really bad.

OGS has got them playing this pretty to the eye, but pretty ineffective ultimately brand of football. Jordon Mutch was scintillating vs. Pool but I don't really see Cardiff as much of a threat. They might have been relegated by this time and only playing for pride.

Parking the bus shouldn't really be much of an issue, as Ole instead believes in attacking football and the way they took the game to Liverpool in the first half means that this could be an exciting encounter.

The Bluebirds/Redbirds shouldn't really scare us too much.

______

Thus, our last seven games show us some completely winnable games that we need to win in order to make the Liv (A) game even matter. If we end up losing or drawing our games before, our title charge may well we done before. Also, the games are "relatively easy" as no game is easy really.

All season we have struggled against teams that have sat back and defended for their lives (West Ham, Villa and West Brom away come to mind). The good thing for us is that expect Palace and Norwich, all other teams on the list are ones that either have played rather open and expansively or currently have a coach that is changing their philosophy in that direction. And out of the two, Norwich do not have any spine away from home. So, let's just get Palace out of the way please.

If the little horses cross the finish line and win, it would be the greatest miracle of them all.

_________

In case anyone wants a similar rundown of Liv and City fixtures, let me know. I'll try to not talk/write so much. First fan post, so be slightly nicer than you would be otherwise.

This FanPost was contributed by a member of the community and was not subject to any sort of approval process. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions held by the editors of this site.

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